Saturday, July 13, 2013

Sometimes, freedom comes covered in vomit.

Sometimes freedom gets a little messy.

For Jonah - literally.

You all know the story. After Jonah disobeyed God and ran from His direct orders, he was swallowed up by a giant fish and taken down into the deep.

There's a lot of humility to be found in the bottom of the sea, in a belly of a fish.

Jonah found it.

Then Jonah prayed to the Lord his God from the belly of the fish, saying,
“I called out to the Lord, out of my distress,
    and he answered me;
out of the belly of Sheol I cried,
    and you heard my voice.
For you cast me into the deep,
    into the heart of the seas,
    and the flood surrounded me;
all your waves and your billows
    passed over me.
Then I said, ‘I am driven away
    from your sight;
yet I shall again look
    upon your holy temple.’
The waters closed in over me to take my life;
    the deep surrounded me;
weeds were wrapped about my head
    at the roots of the mountains.
I went down to the land
    whose bars closed upon me forever;
yet you brought up my life from the pit,
    Lord my God.
When my life was fainting away,
    I remembered the Lord,
and my prayer came to you,
    into your holy temple.
Those who pay regard to vain idols
    forsake their hope of steadfast love.
But I with the voice of thanksgiving
    will sacrifice to you;
what I have vowed I will pay.
    Salvation belongs to the Lord!”
10 And the Lord spoke to the fish, and it vomited Jonah out upon the dry land.
That last line is what grabbed me today. Sunk into my heart and nestled in with a few prickly barbs and a crystal clear analogy, so clear and adrenaline-pumping, it was as if God tapped me on the shoulder and said "go blog that."
(Um, "Yes sir". I just read about Jonah disobeying! Not going to delay)
I'm not entirely sure what fish vomit looks like, and since I'm eating donuts at the moment, I don't necessarily want to camp there too long ;)
But I do know that being vomited onto dry land had to be pretty disgusting. Think about what else was in the belly of that fish. It wasn't equipped with a couch and an X-Box and an ottoman. There was probably other fish - dead or alive? Maybe bones? Misc. trash? Water, I'm sure. Think of the smell. The bile.
Think of the process that had to physically happen for Jonah to be puked up on dry land. 
Sometimes, freedom can get a little messy.
Where is your fish belly today? What areas in your life have sent you running from God and gotten you swallowed up and trapped in a really smelly situation? 
I've been there. Quite recently. So recently, I'm still trying to shower off the fishy-smell, actually.
Because when we as believers demand our own way, and act as if we know better than God, there are consequences. And God loves us too much NOT to stick us in the belly of the fish for a while until we get our perspective right. 
The process isn't fast. It isn't easy. And even when we find the freedom from it, we might smell like fish vomit for a while. 
But it's still freedom. Being free and whole and standing on dry land, yet needing a little cologne, is a LOT better than staying-trapped-in-the-fish-guts-of-sin. Trust me. 
So where are you today? It's one of several places. 
1. Are you hearing and obeying God's instructions?
2. Have you already heard and are running in disobedience?
3. Are you currently IN the fish?
4. Or have you just been puked up?
If you're in #1, please don't run. Whatever the message God is calling you to do (or not do), LISTEN. Go to your Ninevah, already. Trust Him, even if the message seems crazy or dangerous or unfair.
If you're in #2, STOP. Repent. Turn. Confess. Quit it, already, and redirect your route. That fish is swimming your way, friend. You don't have to go there. Don't make yourself go there!
If you're in #3, I'm so, SO sorry. I know what that smells like. But there's hope, just like there was for Jonah. Compose your own prayer to God, and repeat my instructions in #2. It's never too late to turn and get it right. 
And then, well, brace yourself, friend. Because dry land is coming, and it's not an easy transition. 
But it's just a transition. 
And you won't stink forever. 


  1. AMEN! Amen and amen and amen! Betsy St. Amant, THIS is victory and THIS is powerful and THIS is truth. God is working powerfully in you, sister. Even if you don't always feel it.

  2. Yes!! ::::says the girl through tears::: Everything Katie said! :)

  3. Love this, Bets!!! Sometimes you have to find yourself in the belly of the beast to see and hear him clearly. But even when we find ourselves in less than ideal, and yes, sometimes terrifying, places, we are never abandoned. So blessed to read this here today! Xoxo

  4. God's knocking on some hearts about this message because I have a similar Jonah-themed post in my queue ready to publish. Good stuff, Betsy. All I have to think about are snakes in that belly. Shudder. I've been praying for you, and will continue. God's got you. Always.

  5. Perfectly said!! What's also amazing is how God used still him powerfully in Ninevah afterwards (even if he might not have felt that appealing :). Kind of a good reminder that it's not about us, it's Him!

  6. *still used him (not "used still" lol)

  7. "Trust Him, even if the message seems crazy or dangerous or unfair...." -- or, if the message goes against the grain our concepts about what is "right"! God wants us to discern His voice amidst the mixed signals all around us - to know how to hear Him in our spirit. Yes, yes, yes...
    Tough stuff, but good stuff. Thanks, Betsy!